I HATE scary movies. Everyone who knows me, knows this. The last scary movie I saw was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I swear I had nightmares for a month straight. But there is something about American Horror Story that I am simply addicted to. The disturbing intro containing images of infant body parts being preserved in a haunted basement, accompanied by the eerie electro theme song is enough to scare off viewers from the get go. But apparently this is not the case. The FX freshman hit American Horror Story delivered a total of 3.2 million viewers in 59 countries through its FOX International Channels rollout. I can’t decide if I love it, loathe it, or love to hate it. Even some of those who despise it, however, find that they can’t stop watching it.
It is impossible to fully explain the confusing and complicated plot of the series, but here is the basic run down: after suffering a traumatic stillbirth, Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) walks in on her psychiatrist husband, Ben (Dylan McDermott), sleeping with one of his students. The couple make the big move to Los Angeles in hopes of refreshing their troubled marriage. After purchasing this haunted house, stories of past murder-suicides, homicides, and other eerie events surface about their new house. Scariness, in the form of ghostly maids, baby monsters, murderous burn victims, kinky phantoms in bondage wear, and deranged Southern belles, ensues.
But some are concerned that the show goes too far- especially for cable-TV. Not only is there a large occurrence of blood and gore in the show, there is extremely provocative and sensual scenes that are definitely not appropriate for children’s’ viewing. I am not entirely convinced, however, that this show is any different from other drama’s on television today.
US critics have been just as split as audiences on the show, which has already been renewed for a second season. AOLtv’s Mo Ryan called the show a “train wreck,” writing that American Horror Story is merely “a gloss on a lumpy, slapdash drama about relatively boring people.” I, however, loved the show from the beginning because I could never predict where the plot was going- a rarity in primetime television.
I have to admit, as scary as the show may be, it is even more disturbing. The images of the devil, brutal murders and school shootings, the ageless ghosts, and over all mind-games that the show plays with you. I have watched every episode, some more than once, and there is so much that has yet to be explained. But that is a big part of what keeps me intrigued. How old really is the maid? Who is the man in the black suit?
Sure, it’s campy and creepy and doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, as it shouldn’t. It’s not the kind of horror thing that demands we imagine ourselves in the situation in order to be scared, which would require the show to exist at least somewhat within the bounds of the real. No, this show eschews all attempts at relatability and just throws the grimy, gore-ridden kitchen sink into the middle of the room and we yelp and laugh in equal measure. I mean look at me- I can’t watch Saw without the lights on, if I watch it all. It is a psycological mind-game that scares while intriguing its viewers. It is a perfect combination of reality and imagination- enough to keep me sleeping with one eye open after I watch an episode at least.
“American Horror Story” raises a lot of questions — Is the house haunted? Why? Who are all these zany people and what do they want? But the answers don’t look as if they’ll matter much, other than as vehicles with which to unveil more ghouls, more sex, and more madness. So if you dare enter the addiction that many of us have fallen in love with, American Horror Story airs on FX on Wednesday’s at 10 PM.